The Great Debate UK
-Justin Fisher is Professor of Political Science and Director of the Magna Carta Institute at Brunel University. The opinions expressed are his own.-
With the election now just under seven months away, the starting guns for the campaign were fired at the party conferences. This general election looks like the most eagerly awaited since 1997, and could lead for some significant changes for each of the three largest parties.
The Conservatives have led in the polls since October 2007 (following “the election that never was”) and throughout 2009, the lead in YouGov’s polls has never fallen below 7 percent. On the face of it, it could appear that the Conservatives are home and dry. Yet, recent polls and the party conferences have thrown out some out some conflicting messages.
Labour’s conference, for example, appeared to demonstrate a surprising degree of party unity, buoyed no doubt by Peter Mandelson’s conference address. The party may be deeply concerned about its predicament (and some may be resigned to its apparent fate), but there was little of the obvious in-fighting that has characterised Labour over the past few years. Indeed, there seemed to be more of that at the Liberal Democrats’ gathering.
Chancellor Alastair Darling has ignored the first rule of holes: if you’re in one, stop digging. He could have produced a few motherhood-and-apple pie reforms of the banking system, to give the impression of activity. Instead, he has dug in, proposing an upgrade of Britain’s failed “tripartite” system of regulation.
from UK News:
Chancellor Alistair Darling set out new plans to strengthen regulation of financial markets on Wednesday. The white paper proposes enforcing higher levels of capital for banks and increasing liquidity to prevent a re-run of the credit crunch.
Darling wants banking pay packages to be policed and for a new Council for Financial Stability to bring together the work of the Bank of England, Financial Services Authority and the Treasury.
The elections this Thursday are widely expected to be bad for Labour. And depending upon which poll you believe, they may not be brilliant for the Conservatives. But a familiar call will emerge nevertheless – that a loss of seats, particularly at local council level, will lead to a further decline in that party’s grassroots. This reality is, however, a bit more complex.
(UPDATED Dec 18 – This post is now closed for questions)
Conservative Party leader David Cameron will be speaking on the economy and the credit crunch at Thomson Reuters’ Canary Wharf office on Monday, followed by a question and answer session.
The Tory leader has argued that two main problems face Britain at present – a recession coupled with a record level of government debt, and that the government is trying to tackle one while ignoring the other.